151 episodes

Each week, host Thoko Moyo speaks with leading experts in public policy, media, and international affairs about their experiences confronting the world's most pressing public problems.

PolicyCast Harvard University

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Each week, host Thoko Moyo speaks with leading experts in public policy, media, and international affairs about their experiences confronting the world's most pressing public problems.

    217 Championing human rights amid disease and discrimination

    217 Championing human rights amid disease and discrimination

    Throughout history, governments have seized on catastrophes to seize and consolidate power. Yet official actions like restricting movement, ramping up surveillance, curtailing freedom of assembly, and closing borders can also help control the spread of a deadly pandemic like COVID-19.

    Harvard Kennedy School Professors Mathias Risse and Jacqueline Bhabha say that while some of these measures may be temporarily necessary to prevent loss of life, safeguards must be put in place to make sure human rights are not eroded over the long term. But how do you promote human rights in a worldwide climate of fear?

    • 35 min
    216 A historic crossroads for systemic racism and policing in America

    216 A historic crossroads for systemic racism and policing in America

    After 400 years of systemic discrimination against black people in America, the volcanic reaction to video of the brutal killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis has pushed America to another major inflection point in its seemingly endless struggle with race. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, both black people and allies from other racial identities, have taken to the streets to decry police brutality and systemic discrimination, and to demand change.

    But will that change be transformative or incremental? And will it be permanent or merely temporary, forgotten when the next big crisis comes along? To help us sort it out, host Thoko Moyo welcomes Harvard Kennedy School Professors Khalil Muhammad and Erica Chenoweth.

    Muhammad is one of the country’s foremost scholars on the history of race, criminal justice, and inequality, and the author of groundbreaking book “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.”He is a professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, and faculty director of the Institutional Anti-racism and Accountability Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

    Chenoweth is known internationally for her pioneering research on social and protest movements and what makes them successful. Much of her work examines the relative efficacy of nonviolent and violent protest and what tactics can help bring about lasting change. She is the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and director of the new Nonviolent Action Lab at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

    • 45 min
    215 No quick or easy answers for the pandemic's toll on developing economies

    215 No quick or easy answers for the pandemic's toll on developing economies

    Harvard Kennedy School Professor Ricardo Hausmann and the Growth Lab COVID-19 Task Force are helping developing countries around the globe develop economic and epidemiological responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Hausmann tells PolicyCast host Thoko Moyo that although some countries are having success in controlling the virus and in developing innovative approaches to restoring economic activity, the pandemic will be almost certainly be a "very, very serious headache" until a vaccine is widely available.

    • 33 min
    214 When discrimination and a pandemic collide

    214 When discrimination and a pandemic collide

    Harvard Kennedy School Professor Cornell Brooks says America’s legacy of racial discrimination means communities of color are being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic on everything from health to economics to political disenfranchisement.Brooks says historic systemic discrimination, lack of access to healthcare and healthy food, housing and employment disparities, and other issues have left communities of color uniquely vulnerable. Brooks also says the pandemic is also causing widespread disruption in the current election season, and that it has the potential to exacerbate the current trend toward minority disenfranchisement, both purposeful and unanticipated.

    • 30 min
    213 Managing crisis without resources: Developing nations brace for Coronavirus

    213 Managing crisis without resources: Developing nations brace for Coronavirus

    Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Matt Andrews is helping public leaders in the developing world prepare as best they can to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. But how to do you order a shelter-in-place when 40 percent of your population is homeless?

    Even during normal times, government officials in developing countries often feel overwhelmed by the problems they’re asked to solve. Now they are staring down the Coronavirus pandemic, which has already driven nations with sophisticated public health systems to the brink. To make matters worse, Andrews, who is the faculty director of the Building State Capability program at the Center for International Development, says the developing world is now basically having to go it alone fighting the pandemic. The outside aid workers and experts who usually fly in to help in a crisis like an earthquake or the Ebola virus have been grounded by travel restrictions.

    Yet even though government leaders in developing countries may lack vital resources, Andrews says there’s still a lot they can do to empower, mobilize, and inspire their public sectors — and save as many lives as possible. Andrews and the BSC staff have created what they call “problem driven iterative adaptation” (PDIA) methodology, which is an intensive process of bringing teams of officials and stakeholders to identify complex problems and then break those problems down into smaller component problems. Instead of coming up with one grand plan, the group tackles those smaller problems, which are easier to grasp and less overwhelming. For the past 5 years, he’s been offering the class remotely via the internet, and now 1,500 graduates of the program are working in national, regional, and local governments and NGOs worldwide.

    To respond to the current crisis, Andrews says he is hoping to use those graduates to build a network of trainers who can help officials develop better responses — despite the overwhelming odds.

    Andrews has also created a “Public Leadership Through Crisis” blog, which distills down the lessons BSC has learned over the years about effective leadership in times of crisis in places where resources are scarce.

    “Even if you don't have all those resources, there's an incredible amount that you can do by better authorizing people, by mobilizing and inspiring people,” Andrews tells PolicyCast host Thoko Moyo.

    • 35 min
    212 When Bad Things Happen to Everybody: Crisis Management in a Chaotic World

    212 When Bad Things Happen to Everybody: Crisis Management in a Chaotic World

    The COVID-19 coronavirus has spread from Asia to Europe and the Middle East and threatens. HKS Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem says globalization has changed the nature of the crises we face — and that policymakers and crisis managers must keep up with new challenges including disinformation and the climate crisis.

    • 31 min

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